Samuel Franklin Cody& Farnborough

A Brief History

A full history of Samuel Cody can be found at expert historian and Cody expert, Jean Roberts site -

The most colourful of all pioneering aviators must surely be the American born Samuel Franklin Cody. (pictured right at the controls of one of his later aircraft.)
When, in 1890, he first arrived in Europe it was as a Wild West Showman appearing in music halls with a trick shooting and fancy roping act. He later ventured into the world of the Wild West melodrama which was so popular with the audiences of the day and having conquered the English stage, he moved on to conquer the air.

Over a period of several years Cody developed a deep interest in kite flying and his success in the theatre provided the finance to progress this interest from a hobby to an aerial system of great practical value. For a while his theatrical and kiting interests coincided but gradually more and more of his time was concentrated on to the latter and ultimately led to the development of a sophisticated system of man lifting kites.

By 1901 he was sufficiently confident in this system to attempt to gain the interest of the British War Office in its use for observation. It was not, however, until 1905 that they accepted the value of kites to the Army at which time Cody was given the post of Kite Instructor to the Royal Engineers' Balloon School at Aldershot. Cody moved with the Balloon School to Farnborough when the space available in Aldershot proved to be inadequate.

He followed development of his kite work through to include gliders and a "motor kite ". Cody's ambition was to create a manned aircraft and and he succeeded in making what is now regarded as the first powered controlled flight in the UK on 16th October 1908.
The flight took place on Farnborough Common near the feature known as the "Black Sheds" and on ground overlooked by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) Museum.

The following picture is of the aircraft during that flight and it is this aircraft, known as British Army Aircraft Number 1A, which will be replicated by FAST in time for the centenary of that first flight, in October 2008.

British Army Aeroplane No1A 'Cody Flyer'

If you would like to read a more detailed account of the life & history of Samuel Cody, please visit the site of local historian and Cody expert, Jean Roberts at , who's help & support has helped make this project possible.

FAST Media contact:
Richard Gardner Tel 01252 515562

Project Leader:
David Wilson Tel 01420 23644

Project Deputy:
Maurice Shakespeare

Information on Samual Franklin Cody:
Jean Roberts Tel 01252 543740

Samuel Franklin Cody